Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Testing the Validity of the Halverson Developmental Sequences for Skipping

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Testing the Validity of the Halverson Developmental Sequences for Skipping

Article excerpt

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to test the validity of developmental sequences hypothesized by Halverson (Roberton & Halverson, 1984) for the arm and leg action in skipping. Method: Children's skipping movements were categorized into the Halverson sequences using (a) cross-sectional video data collected on one hundred and fifty 5- to 12-year-olds, and (b) longitudinal film data collected on 7 children followed from age 3 through high school. Both data sets were graphed separately across age to see if the sequence levels rose and fell in accordance with developmental theory. Results: The longitudinal data indicated tentative validity of the sequences although study of younger children will be needed to validate the earliest levels of arm and leg action. In contrast to the children in the longitudinal study, relatively few children in the cross-sectional study had reached the most advanced levels of the skip by 12 years of age. Supporting the findings of Loovis and Butterfield (2000), the cross-sectional skipping data showed no gender differences (p [greater than or equal to] .05). Conclusion: Future studies should continue the validation process as well as further examine questions related to gender differences in skipping and to the amount of practice needed to acquire advanced movement in this task.

Keywords: gender differences, locomotion, longitudinal research, motor development


A distinguishing feature of the fields of motor development and developmental psychology is the study of developmental sequences, defined as the chronological ordering of qualitative changes that occur in the behavior of most individuals (Overton, 1998). A qualitative change is the appearance of something new in a person's repertoire (Roberton & Halverson, 1984). In motor development, a number of developmental sequences have been hypothesized, but few have been validated. This paucity is due to the fact that validation of developmental sequences requires longitudinal study. If a sequence is valid, then over time, all or most individuals will show the same qualitatively different motor behaviors in the same order. This criterion does not mean that individuals must display the behaviors at the same age; rather, it is the common order that determines the validity of the sequence. Thus, it is often said that motor development is age-related but not age-determined, meaning that progression through the sequences occurs as a person grows older but is not caused by age per se. Changing relationships co-occurring with time within a person or between that person and various environmental factors are presumed to cause developmental sequences.

While longitudinal study is the ultimate requirement for validation, preliminary studies of developmental sequences can take other forms, the most familiar of which is cross-sectional research. Calling the technique a "prelongitudinal screening," Roberton, Williams, and Langendorfer (1980) proposed developmentally assessing groups of children of different ages and then plotting the frequency with which each age group displayed all the levels of the hypothesized sequence. If the plots yield curves mimicking longitudinal plots, the screening is said to support the probable validity of the sequence. That is, the curve for each level of the sequence would rise to modality and then fall in frequency in the hypothesized order, just as if one group of individuals was followed over time. Figure 1 shows a hypothetical plot for a three-level sequence. Over age, Developmental Level 1 declines from modality, Level 2 builds up to modality and then declines, and lastly, Level 3 becomes modal. Given such results, the investigator could feel the developmental sequence was worth the time and expense of proceeding with longitudinal research.

While any motor skill is worthy of developmental study, it is particularly interesting to study skills with obvious coordination changes because such changes may be potential levels in a developmental sequence. …

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